by tobias crabtree
i read about this little hummingbird that was found in africa. that might not sound like a big deal to you but it is. hummingbirds belong to the americas and the americas alone. they don’t live in the old world. so the only way a hummingbird could end up over in africa naturally is if she was blown into the jet stream and swept away; way away into that old continent where things are older. someone found the little bird all dehydrated and close to death so they fed her and boxed her up and sent her back to america. i assume she is flying free and telling her lover about the one time when the wind took her away. about when she was trapped in a box and then the sun found her and the sky called her back. and blue flowers and pink. and lavender and yellows and oranges.
the thing is, hummingbirds have a short life compared to us. some live 4 years, some 2. they burn like a white hot bolt of lightning. all them colors shining from the inside out. and that little prodigal avian, lost in the sky across a foreign sea, spent a huge portion of her life alone. i thought about that a lot. i thought about the flicker we call life. blink and it’s gone.
i was in choir in high school. my dad actually has a voice. he can sing. he would stand in the pulpit when i was 4 and 5 and he would sing this one song, “thanks to calvary”. i remember the song because i was involved. on the chorus, my old man would turn his eyes toward me and hold his hand out. i would walk to the platform and he’d pick me up and sing the remainder of the song to me. the congregation would cry, my mom would cry, and i would cry without knowing why. so, for whatever reason, when i was of age, i was in a choir. everyone expected me to belt it out like the old man. and i kinda doubted it, with good reason.
christmas came and there was some kind of production for the church. i found myself singing a duet in the middle of a cantata. it was to be me and julie macht (not sure about how to spell her last name…it was a while back). now let’s set the stage just right here. i, for one, thought that julie was hot. like really hot. i also was not hot…not even a little. so the thought of standing next to her and singing made my already mid-pubescent voice swerve towards flat. the song was the little drummer boy. we practiced aplenty and then the big night showed up like they always do. i stood under the lights and piped up through the beginning portions. then it was me… and julie. her voice seemed like something that filtered down through the clouds and it carried a little bit of heaven with it. i sounded like me; unsure, daunted, swimming for a shore that may or may not be out there in the dark. when the spotlight turned away and my voice calmed down like a shaky, baby bird, i was just happy to be alive. i made it through.
moments. heartbeats. you know, they are limited, right? yeah, they are. they’re limited. i don’t know how many times i’ve said, “man, i just want this to be over.” i think about that a lot. all the wishes for the moment to go away. i wonder if someday i’ll lie there sucking wind and wishing i had one more moment. just a few more breaths.
lately i’ve been doing this thing, it’s personal. don’t worry it ain’t weird…err, maybe a little. i treat each day like a life. every morning a little birth. every day a life. every night a quiet death. as i lay down, like i will in a few minutes, i look at the stars and the moon and i pay them homage. i’m a little in love with the moon anyway, she’s always there, know what i mean? i say a word or two to myself. i remind myself that this day is done, this one, single day will never be back. my movement through the cosmos will never be recreated again in this particular, perfect fashion. i lie there and give way to the rolling world. a little death.
when i finally die, i wonder if i’ll have my stove-top coffee maker ready to go (of course i will, duh). i wonder what will happen to my home-made shoes. there will be things left undone, for sure. but one thing i know, all the mysteries will be solved as the gears of eternity grind me into a nice, fine powder, not at all unlike the way i like my coffee grounds, and feed me to the trees. i’ll sing to that. hell yes, i’ll sing to that.